Mount Fuji: No longer free 富士山の入山料
A famous view of Mount Fuji; by the master of the Japanese printing Hiroshige.
Mount Fuji at sunrise, in Shizuoka prefecture.
Last year, Mount Fuji joined the long list of Japanese UNESCO natural and cultural heritage sites.
But is this good news for a place that already receives over 300,000 visitors each summer (Mount Fuji can only be climbed between July and September) and that's already close to overexploitation? How can the number of hikers be controlled or curbed on Mount Fuji, when UNESCO's decision risks increasing them?
Some specialists have called for visitors to pay a "right of way" fee, which would have the effect of (slightly) reducing the number of tourists, and would generate funds to help better protect the site.
1000 yen, the price of Fuji
One solution tested with success in summer 2013 over 10 days, involved Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures (which share the slopes of Mount Fuji) asking climbers to pay the sum of 1000 yen (about $8.50): more than 10,000 people did so, recognizing the merits of this mountain "toll".
The idea will be enacted this summer, from July 1 to September 14, 2014 in Yamanashi, and from July 10 to September 10 in Shizuoka. All adult climbers may choose to pay 1000 yen (it will not be mandatory) at the fifth station. Payments can be made online or in some konbini, and generous donors wishing to give more will be gratefully thanked!